If ever there was a memory I revisit connected to food, browsing, new experiences, and feeling that I LIVED and loved life to the fullest it is this Friday in July when I visited Borough for the first time ever…
Coming from India and have spent most of my life in Bombay I am no stranger to massive open food bazaars, haggling to get one free lemon or a bunch of coriander and feeling triumphant that I could get HAPOOS AAMBE – the king of fruits Alphonso Mangoes at a few rupees lower than the previous customer ….old memories of accompanying my mother as a child to the market every other day and helping her carry home-made cloth and nylon bags full of fresh vegetables and fruits. With these vivid memories in mind I set off with my pal N to visit the market.
Getting there by tube was fun and the first glimpse of the market sort of gave me that feeling of a newcomer to a large city, no not of feeling LOST but simply overwhelmed by the sheer variety of goods available,Of course the most beautiful part is the way all the sights and smells make their way into your mind, literally it was my nose leading me to the food !Set in Southwark, one is found staring at the SHARD as soon you exit from the Tube station, towering over the place it is an imposing glass structure.
The market is massive,has a really amazing old world charm thanks to its origin roughly dating back to the 1800’s when it started off as a wholesale market and continues to be,to this date.
Of course, we took a lot of pictures and ate many free samples along the way but the places where I feel silent with admiration were the Fresh Fish counter – for its sheer variety and activity surrounding the stall, the Mushrooms on display-I guess I had never seen so many colourfull, delicate and edible mushrooms in one place before! The Gamston Wood Farm with its exotic meats, yes as exotic as ostrich meat – left me totally speechless but owing to my many food allergies I didn’t experiment, but someday soon I do hope too! I purchased some ripe nectarines, ripe juicy tomatoes, and some crunchy salad leaf bunches.
The Market itself is divided into a few large chunks, we started by walking around the fresh fruit,vegetable and sea food shops, moving onto the inner food court where one find everything from superior Assam tea(which I did buy and got home in a cute brown paper bag and treat myself to some mornings with a generous chunk of ginger and plenty of milk, proper boiled sweet Indian CHAI!) to different varieties of cheese,exotic breads,organic foods,herbs,spices,nuts,dates,desserts sighhhh, then one is led to the many fresh food stalls where one can eat exotic burgers, hot dogs, rolls, pizza or sandwiches,soups,salads almost any imaginable snack packed with fresh meat,cheese and all things divine,I certainly envy all the office goers who can visit this place during lunch hour!Not to be missed are the bakery,patisserie and confectionary stalls, creative, hand-made and exotic all rolled into one, giving into those sweet craving is very easy indeed.Each trader no matter how small the stall exuded passion for their craft.Lot of international foods are available here in this massive expanse of a market each with its own spot under the sun so to speak.
There are many pubs and restaurants in the vicinity which sort of take over when the market itself shuts down for the day.
Simply walking past the fresh oysters and taking in all the gorgeous food aromas wafting around does good for any appetite.Aptly then Borough Market has won ”London Food Market of the Year” 2010 at the London Lifestyle awards.The sea food selection is the best in the city and it is also a great place to buy some amazing wines and spirits, from far-flung places across the globe.
”N” and I got ourselves ” The Spitfire” and a ”BBQ Banger” respectively from a friendly fella who happily smiled for my camera! Big Bonus points to him, am definitely going back for more yummy food!The rail-bridge crossing over this part of this market causes a bit of a rattle-shake-shudder when trains pass by overhead.
We took our hot meals wrapped in tissues and sat down in the compound of the Southwark Cathedral with many other and though it was windy we hardly noticed, eating our lunch like hungry school kids with sauce dripping off our face!
We then ate ice cream made from goat’s milk,thick,creamy and delicious are base emotions, it transported me to a green farm far away into the English countryside, I left I was on a patch of land watching women dressed up like village belle of times gone by carrying pails of creamy thick milk and barns full of healthy cows and other animals…. N had to shake me out of my dream world so we could continue browsing;)
Ice cream in hand and after much posing for pictures we strolled to the area with big shops which have been around for many years so much so that they have are food institutions on their own, one of them is Ginger Pig.When one enters the Ginger Pig shop,it’s almost like walking into a museum of oink oink 😉 EVERY possible cut,chop,slice,dip,garnish associated with cooking pork all under one roof – sigh ….
After strolling around some more and drinking in the sites, we decided it was time to leave but not before we spent some time browsing the flower stalls outside and purchased some magic potions from Neal’s Yard and some more relaxing tea for me, which I sampled at their store, it made me all drowsy and calm just what I recommend for a good nights sleep, count more deep sleep zzz’s after drinking this one folk…
Chocolate – the food fit for The God’s especially the one made by Hotel Chocolat‘….. the wooden interiors with the dim lighting and walls filled with chocolates so divine and varied that we just had to go in and have some liquid chocolate, mine was mixed with CHILLI! yes, awesome right? we also got to sample many of the new innovations and sat down on one of the massive wooden benches and sipped our hot chocolate and dreamt of ……well more CHOCOLATE!
Though the weather decided to play spoil sport,nothing could take away the feeling of a day spent pampering my senses….all I wanted to do was go home with my spoils wrapped in crinkly brown paper and sink my teeth into the nectarines and turn the tomatoes into a thick creamy soup.
If I could I would have written a poetry to describe my feelings when I left the market, I wish I could come up with some quotable quote to put all that happens in one’s mind in the market in a nutshell, but really , it wouldn’t suffice, no written word or picture can do justice to the beauty of this vibrant part of London’s heritage and history, treat yourself to a day out Visit Borough Market ….
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